Avalanche Report for Creag Meagaidh


Avalanche Hazard Forecast

FOR PERIOD 18:00 Sun 29/03/2015 TO 18:00 Mon 30/03/2015

Hazard level
Human triggered avalanches not likely. Generally safe travel conditions.
Human triggered avalanches are possible, so good visibility and good route selection is important, especially in steep locations as indicated in the reports. Groups should be managed carefully, keeping good spacing between people to reduce loading on slopes.
Natural avalanches may occur - and a single person load is likely to trigger an avalanche on some slopes. Good visibility and route finding in mountain terrain is important, as is experience in avalanche hazard evaluation.
Natural avalanches will occur - and a single person load will trigger an avalanche on some slopes. Good visibility and good route-finding in mountain terrain is essential, as is experience in avalanche hazard evaluation.
Very High
Widespread natural avalanches will occur - and a single person load will trigger an avalanche on most slopes. Good visibility and good route-finding in mountain terrain is essential, as is experience in avalanche hazard evaluation.
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The avalanche hazard will be Considerable

Forcasted Snow Stability & Avalanche Hazard

New weak windslab development mainly on North- East to East facing aspects above 800m. Build up expected to be enhanced by re-distribution of existing snow. Most affected areas will be the tops of gullies and sheltered steep scarp slopes. Additional cornice development expected over steep lee slopes. All wind scoured aspects will be well stabilised. The avalanche hazard will be Considerable

Forcasted Weather Influences

Cold with snow showers throughout. Strong Westerly winds easing and becoming West-South-Westerly during the day.

Key Snow Stability Observations

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Observed Avalanche Hazard -

The avalanche hazard is Moderate

Observed Weather Influences

Snowfall in the early hours followed by further snow showers in the afternoon. Very light variable winds increasing South-Westerly much later. Warm in hazy sunshine though colder in late snow showers.

Observed Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard

A covering a fresh snow at all altitudes. Sun-triggered point releases on some South aspects below 800m. At the time of reporting localised soft windslab development present on a few very steep and sheltered North to East aspects above 900m. New slab build up is minor but late drifting will see a further decline in stability. Large cornices remain in place above steep lee slopes. Good stability elsewhere. The avalanche hazard is Moderate

Mountain Conditions

Diminishing snowpack, good above 800 metres Clear in the morning with poor visibility in clouds and snow afternoon Winds approx 10mph or less


Old snowpack moist below 850m on Sunday, firmer at higher altitudes and on shaded aspects. Highly variable weather on Sunday!

Weekly Snowpack Summary
  • Well stabilise re-frozen snowpack for most of the period with some softening on sunnier aspects. New snowfall towards end of period from a wintry blast brought fresh slab deposits, mainly on North West through North to Easterly aspects - rapidly consolidating in fluctuating temps. Diminished snowpack elsewhere, moist but generally stable below 800m.

    Fluctuating freezing levels to around summits resulted in a generally well consolidated snowpack in most locations. Some light snowfall gave rise to localised accumulations of moderately bonded windslab start of period, which persisted for much of the time above 900m on NW through to Easterly aspects. Elsewhere most slopes remained hard re-frozen and stable. The snowpack is now beginning to soften in a slow thaw, stability remains generally good.

    Several melt freeze cycles stabilised the old snowpack though full depth glide cracks widened on East aspects. Some new windslab accumulated on high lee slopes with wet surface sluffing after temp rise or rain.

    A brief mild period at the start of the week before turning much colder with snow to all levels and frequent heavy snow showers on a strong Westerly wind. Areas of deep unstable windslab developed on mainly North-East through to South-East aspects above 700m with large unstable cornices building above these aspects. At the end of the week a slow gradual thaw started in conjunction with strong to gale force force South-Westerly winds and light rain showers.

    Storm cycles throughout the period brought snow to all levels and areas of windslab were widespread on mainly North through to Easterly aspects, with large cornices building over mostly North East and East aspects. A freeze thaw cycle towards the end of the period helped consolidate the snowpack in all locations, although new slab is again beginning to build as further snowfall brings fresh accumulations above 600m.

    Isothermal snowpack and cool temperatures in the early part of the period maintained good stability, though full depth glide cracks widened on SE aspects at 750m. Large full depth avalanche early on the 15th on a SE aspect after freezing level rose to 800m. Other glide cracks widened. Some new snow instability on N to NE aspects after snowfall and drifting followed by much milder conditions and wet snow instability induced by rain at all levels. Re-freeze brought some initial consolidation later

    Little or no snowfall but cold early in the period sustaining localised instability in mature windslab on many aspects. Deeper deposits on some steep East to South aspects had widening full depth glide cracks and conspicuous buckling of slab as temperatures eased. Full depth avalanche activity on South East and East aspects at around 750m in Coire Ardair and Coire Choile Rais on 11th Feb in milder weather. Size 3 avalanche in Coire Ardair.

    Three days of snowfall and drifting brought new snow instability and some limited avalanche activity on E to SE aspects. Persistently cold temperatures through the rest of the period preserved instability on most aspects but notably on SE to SW aspects. Less cold conditions later encouraged consolidation in all locations except SE and S where deep snow cover maintained the facetting trend. Glide cracks beginning to appear near the end of the period on some selected SE aspects at around 750m.

    Some heavy snowfall at start of period followed by fluctuating temps and wet thawing conditions at the start of the week. Additional snowfall followed with further temp fluctuations, strong winds heavy windward scouring on exposed hillsides and another melt /freeze cycle. Heavier snowfall to end the period with some new snow instabilities and small cornice triggered slides. New slab building mainly Easterly aspects.

    Early snowfall and drifting with winds from variable directions brought extensive cover of snow with hard and soft slab persisting on NW through N to SE aspects above 750m. Cold temperatures extended over several days and induced some early facetting notably above a buried crust and in soft surface slab. Instability became localised later with better stability in many places.

    Snowfall on the 9th and 10th didn’t accumulate except for localised accumulations with a scoured surface prevalent. More snowfall and fluctuating temperatures followed by heavy snowfall at all levels. Very stormy conditions brought widespread storm snow instability on N to SE aspects above 750m. Overall, fairly typical Scottish snowpack with new snow instability but no lingering weak layers.

    After a thaw the snowpack froze in all locations. Run of mainly Westerly winds and some snow showers maintained localised accumulations of cold, multi-layered windslab on NE to SE aspects above 750m. Thaw and light rain brought instability and some avalanche activity on NE aspects on 5th Jan. Colder conditions after the thaw re-stabilised the old snowpack at all altitudes. More snowfall and much colder weather on 6th, 7th and 8th induced new snow instability on NE to SE aspects above 800m.

    Very little snowfall during the period but some lingering instability on NE to SE aspects above 800m due to persistent cold temperatures. Minor evidence of facetting noted in the snow profile on 29th producing easy shears but localised in extent. Diminishing instability with onset of milder temperatures and later moist conditions. Onset of very heavy rainfall and mild temperatures induced full depth avalanche activity on some very steep SE aspects 31st/1st. Thawing, wet snowpack elsewhere.

    New snow avalanche activity on the 20th on NE to SE aspects. Further avalanche activity on 21st after heavy rain and mild temperatures followed by some snowpack consolidation as temperatures fell. More snowfall with graupel induced new instability on N to E aspects which persisted in cold temperatures on Christmas Day.

    Storm snow to start the period resulted in soft weaker layers overlaid by hard more dense deposits. Temperature fluctuations followed mid week with a thaw to all level by end of the week. The depleted snowpack is generally now well consolidated. NB Some cornice collapses mid period with new build up on-going.

    A week of persistent thaw with occasional snow showers and cooler interludes. Snow pack now much patchier and what remains characterised by coarse-grained, stable structure. Deep glide cracks and crevasse-like features present as well as partially collapsed old cornice lines.

    Slow steady thaw conditions and stable for most of the period with freezing levels above summits occasionally lowering just below. Bright sunshine briefly mid-period with some sun on snow localised instabilities, glide cracks continue to develop with remnants of cornices slumping and collapse prone. Slow thaw persisting to end period.

    New snowfall at high levels to start the period were followed by very strong winds with heavy drifting and the rapid slab build up of unstable slab from re-distributed snow. Poor stability with avalanches (class 2 & 3 events)followed these accumulations mid period on NE and E aspects around 900m. Warmer temps and strong sunshine followed with localised wet snow instabilities & cornice debris. A re-freeze now has resulted in much better stability - a few instabilities above 900m from new showers.

    More frontal activity coming in from the Atlantic with rain, very strong winds and mild temperatures; colder, wintry towards the end of the week. Snowpack generally moist and stabilising but diminished in thaw. Snow line now 750 to 800m. Most large cornices now down but some remain. Full depth glide cracks in several never seen before locations: all continue to widen. Colder temps encouraging MF crust to form with new windslab developing on N to E aspects above 850m.

    Two thaw cycles have affected the snowpack over the period with associated wet snow avalanches and a number of cornice collapses primarily on North West through North to East facing slopes. Between these cycles regular snow showers mostly above 700m brought new snow instabilities with drifted accumulations. Some deep seated weaknesses persist within accumulations above 900m.

    Lots of avalanche activity to start the period with numerous large events from a temperature rise accompanied by rain on snow, all mostly below 800m, in some cases these ran to full depth on North through North East and Easterly aspects and involved significant volumes of wet snow. Cooler temps mid week brought some consolidation. New snow showers continuing to build slab again at highest elevations above 900m on same aspects to end period. Good consolidation at lower elevations

    Frequent frontal activity brought snow then warm sector conditions throughout the week. Pattern as follows: initial dry snow instability then transitional wet snow instability followed by a period of consolidation. Avalanche activity has been both dry and wet varieties. Some of the massive and commonplace cornices collapsed in the last wet-warm cycle. Large and deep full depth avalanche on 17th-18th at 750m on a ESE aspect of Sron a Ghoire.

    Blizzard conditions to start the period gave rise to lots of snow transport at high levels. This was followed by avalanche activity (temp rise)primarily NE & E aspects - inner Coire Ardair , although due to cross-loading on high, sheltered areas some activity also noted on SE aspects. Mid-week strong, mostly SE winds and regular snow showers maintained areas of poorly stabilised slab above 850/900m,a cooler period delivered snow to all levels mid-week. Strong mostly SE/SW winds throughout. Highs

    Fresh snowfall followed by some high avalanche activity at the start of the period with several events in Inner coire Ardair NE through E aspects. Further snowfall through the period maintained areas of poorly stabilised slab which became more widespread in variable winds. A feature throughout has been the high level nature of the instabilities and whilst some run out zones affected terrain down to 700m the hazard remained for the most part high on slopes above 900m.

    Snow showers above 800m throughout accompanied by mostly SE winds. Good cover in high plateau areas with pockets of harder windslab around coire rims with new cornice development. Snowpack fairly well consolidated at lower elevations. Snow lie towards end of week with fresh showers and new soft slab NW aspects. Cooler FL around 500m

    A showery and predominately SW airflow over the period. Very little snow lying below 800m but above this regular showers have added to areas of windslab mainly lying at very highest elevations above 900m on N through to E aspects. FL levels seldom rising above summits or lowering below 400m. Greatest additions of new snow towards end of period with heavy snow showers on tops - but still only bringing a dusting below 800m. Thaw to summit with rain forecast to end week.

    Sequence of snow showers throughout with drifting, then colder temperatures. Significant windslab build up followed by milder temperatures and consolidation. Cool temperatures followed with little snowfall continuing the stabilising trend within the snowpack. Snowpack is currently moist and well stabilised in all locations. Large old cornices above some very steep locations.

    Periods of snowfall with windslab development, followed by melt/freeze conditions saw snow avalanche activity before and after thaw. Some of the avalanches cornice triggered. One or two small full depth avalanches during thaw on very steep ground. Snowpack currently moist with a surface crust at higher altitudes and humid windslab confined to locations above 1050m on N to E aspects.

    Fluctuating temperatures helping to consolidate existing snowpack. Strong South westerly's throughout bringing snow showers to highest elevations only, with any new snow weaknesses and windlslab accumulations confined primarily to NW to E facing gully tops and exits above 850m and around coire rims. Localised Considerable for much of period.

    Strong SW throughout with some frequent snowfalls (some very heavy) Temperatures fluctiating althoufh remaing below summit levels. Weakness in windslab accumulations persisting at highest elevations. Deep drifts at lower levels with breakable crust towards end of week below 750m. Little activity in coires - good cover above 750m. Ice forming in usual watercourses. Some cornices beginning to build above Easterly aspects with avalanche activity mostly cornice / some soft slab triggered on E aspect

    Patchy snowpack to start then a stormy week with periods of snowfall and drifting particularly near end of period. New snow instability in thinner windslab noted but this improved with milder temps. Deeper windslab later with notable new snow instability due to rapid build up.

    Sparse and patchy snowpack with larger patches only above 850m. Some South to South East facing coire rims hold a little more old snow. Thawing at all levels.

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